Upper-class Life in the Bush

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JIm Ludden 19 March 1964

Enclosed are a few tid-bits out of Nigerian upper-class life in the bush. The programme (below) is of a going-away party for one of the nurses at the government hospital. They are transferred frequently, an average stay of about a year—contributing much to the poor administration of the hospital. The doctor is being transferred on two days‘ notice. He has been here only eight months. The going away party for this nurse was a very interesting affair. It started 1 1/2 hours late. Only about three people were there from half hour late. Quite formal. The guests all sat on benches at the out-patient clinic with the chairman, etc, at a table at the head. It was primarily a palm-wine drinking party, the. Some of the speeches were excellent. The content was often irrelevant, but very well presented. Such formal going-away parties are frequent.

Also note a wedding invite. Ignatius is a teacher at the primary school—I don‘t know him, his uncle (I think), P M Igboko, is the vice-principal at Aggrey. They would be considered an upper-class family—teachers and government workers. In the bush it is the people who wear a white shirt and own bicycles who are in the upper class. There are bicycle taxis, but the drivers don't wear white shirts. The govt employees (including teachers) wear nylon shirts (very hot) and black wool trousers—wool suits when they dress up. Lawyers often wear a vest, too.

This was for the departure of Mr Nmenelum, Senior Nurse at the Out-Patient Clinic


1. Group photograph

2. Introduction of chairman,supporters and guest of honour

3. Prayers

4. Chairman’s opening remarks

5. Cola nuts, drinks.

6. Toast of guest at honour by ….

7. Drinks and Refreshments

8. Presentation of Souvenir [a palm-wine jug]

9. Free speeches

10. Response by guest of honour.

11. Chairman's closing remarks

It was extremely formal—but with casual jokes, etc. Formal testimonial speeches and toasts.

Guest of honor considers Northern Region bad. (He was a real character, good speaker! - as good as Ikoku!) “Don’t mortgage your conscience.” Supports the government as employer. Doesn’t like lazy workers. Spent 10 years in Kano, 3 1/2 years in Jos, 5 years in Calabar, 3 years in Arochukwu. Extension of clash of interest outside duty makes enemies. Point of duty does not make enemy.

Chairman also excellent speaker. These Igbo! (when drunk)

Jim Ludden

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